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The future of high school? B.C. district to move to ‘quadrant’ schedule under COVID-19

Abbotsford Senior Secondary
Abbotsford Senior Secondary. Global News

In a fundamental switch, the Abbotsford School District is planning to ditch the standard, 20-week semester program at high schools this September, as the coronavirus crisis drags on, in favour of a “quadrant” model.

The current schedule is based on four 65-minute classes each day, with students moving from classroom to classroom.

The new schedule is broken into four 10-week semesters, with high schoolers taking just two, longer classes per day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Read more: Provinces eye hybrid school reopening model, leaving some parents struggling

The district hopes to strengthen student-teacher relationships by allowing teens to spend more time with fewer teachers, after hearing from the school community about a need for such a support network.

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“The difference is we are really putting a focus on relationships, on the ideas of social and emotional learning. This will provide the opportunity for teachers to serve as facilitators of wraparound care for their kids,” assistant district superintendent Gino Bondi said.

Abbotsford high school teachers will also get training each week on how to best emotionally support students.

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The focus on two subjects will also alleviate pressure on students.

With less movement between classes, the quadrant schedule will also make it easier for health officials to contact trace if someone gets sick.

Read more: 8 in 10 teachers worried about plans to reopen schools in the fall: report

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Education Minister Rob Fleming said he and other districts have kept a close eye on what the Abbotsford district is proposing.

 

“It is certainly under discussion — not just in Abbotsford but across the province. People are asking, ‘What will the lessons be out of COVID-19?’ and this perhaps could be that and perhaps could be a permanent feature,” he said.

The province is expected to announce more details on the September return to school in two weeks, with the aim for full in-person instruction, especially for k-to-7 grades as the virus transmission rate appears to be under control.

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B.C. was the only jurisdiction in North America to open all schools in June.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said she supports full-time in-person instruction in the fall.

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“We have learned a lot on how we can do that safely from the month we were open in June,” she told CKNW radio guest host Jody Vance on Friday.

“The overall goal is planning to have all kids back full-time, but we are also doing contingency plans depending what happens in different communities and across the province with the virus.”